Artist Carly Berlin draws her line in Nantucket’s sand.
Watching artist Carly Berlin create her pen-and-ink drawings has a mesmerizing, almost intoxicating, effect. Even in her one-minute YouTube video, the careful way she turns the paper, the sureness but sensitivity with which she applies the ink, makes you feel as if you’re falling gently into a safer, calmer state of mind. It’s no accident. “I’ve struggled with anxiety throughout my life,” Berlin says. “When I’ve felt particularly anxious or depressed, art has always been the one place where I can take control and organize all of the chaos around me. Every piece is done very intentionally.”
The artist’s work, which will be on display from August 24th through September 4th in the public spaces of the newly opened boutique hotel Faraway on India Street, embodies a theme of holding on and letting go. The dark sections of her abstracts represent holding on, while the lighter ones suggest letting go. Her drawings are all about finding the right balance between the two—the part of our journey that has to do with deciding what to continue to carry and what is excess baggage. “There’s a healthy amount of holding on to things and keeping them in the right place, and it’s also very important to let certain things go,” Berlin says, “because you can only progress in life if you do.”
A post-modernist Seurat, Berlin creates the gradients in her shading via Pointillism. Her work is born of dots that she executes in varying densities to reach a final balance. Berlin’s drawings can be found in all 266 rooms of musician Pharrell Williams’ The Goodtime Hotel in Miami Beach, and she has collaborated with the likes of Alexandra Kaehler Design, Stacy London, Ashley Avignone and Henry Hargreaves, among others.
While in most of her art you will see a deliberately placed combination of shaded bars, circles, curves resembling Moorish arches, triangles and lines, her work gracing Faraway will be more ACK-centric. Having been coming to her family’s home on Nantucket since she was a child, she says that “I’ve always been very inspired by the island, and the island has always been such a happy place for me. I reach a state of calm whenever I touch down.”
With that approach to calm in mind, her latest creations include images inspired by such Grey Lady mainstays as beaches, lighthouses and even the shape of the island on a map. Her Nantucket-inspired series contains more colors, too. Historically she has worked with black and white, but for this collection she also used neutral shades that reflect the hues of the island’s homes and the sand.
The exhibited art will be available for purchase, and the profits from the sale of two of the drawings will go to the Nantucket Healing Fund and Fairwinds, Nantucket’s Counseling Center. The Nantucket Healing Fund grants annual scholarships to Nantucket community members pursuing an education in the field of mental health, while Fairwinds provides professional care to adults and youth who seek mental health and addiction services regardless of whether they can afford to pay.
“I’ve been in therapy since I was young,” Berlin says, “and so appreciate the importance of being open about one’s feelings whether in difficult times or good times. I’m pretty communicative about emotions, and I’ve seen how difficult it is for so many people to receive that same level of care. This past year in particular we’ve all seen ourselves tested mentally in so many different ways.” She speaks with admiration of the Healing Fund’s aim of giving a leg up to people with a passion for helping others achieve mental balance, especially if they come back to the island to assist the community. Likewise, she loves that Fairwinds has a sliding scale for mental health services “that goes all the way down to zero.”
Brad Guidi, a principal of Blue Flag Partners, which owns Faraway, is happy to help the two organizations by exhibiting Berlin’s drawings. He is also glad to have the work of a semi-resident artist enliven the hotel. “I think her art is unique,” he says. “The hotel is super eclectic with treasures collected from all over the world. Carly’s art fits this mold.” He acknowledges that her creations are more contemporary than most of what the hotel showcases but says that “we like the juxtaposition. Having a splash of modern art in this eclectic space fits with us and our clientele.”
If you’d like to meet Carly Berlin in person and watch while she creates, she will be drawing in Faraway’s courtyard on Saturday, August 28th, from 4 p.m. till 7 p.m. It’s a unique opportunity to chat with her in person and see her sure, steady, calming hand create order out of chaos right up close.